It seems like a lifetime ago we heard the dulcet tones of Frank Skinner and David Baddiel with their smash hit Euro ’96 anthem ‘Football’s coming home’. “30 years of hurt” they bellowed out – well now it’s an incredible 50 years of hurt having crashed out of even more tournaments in painful manners.
This Saturday, the draw for the Euro 2016 groups will take place at 6pm CET in Paris and England will find out who they have to face at the start of Euro 16 which begins on 10 June. Below, Newitts takes a look at the pros and cons relating to whether the England team has a chance of success at next year's Euro 2016 tournament.
Hodgson has settled into the job and has come to terms with the media spotlight meaning he can focus fully on his coaching. He believes that England are equipped with the right tools to attack and hurt their opponents given the chance, although he has built up a bit of a reputation for being slightly over cautious. However, despite this, the Euro 2016 campaign finished with his team winning all 10 games, scoring 31 goals and conceding only three - a record no other team in the entire qualifying process can match.
A build in confidence
After their defeat in the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, morale for the England team was low. Having lost to Italy and Uruguay and then drawing against Costa Rica, the team were in a very weak position with both form and confidence amongst team members taking a nose dive. Since then, we have witnessed a more youthful England side who are now playing with more confidence and swagger, and enjoying themselves more than they have in the past and momentum is evident in every game.
Wayne Rooney is on form
Rooney is currently enjoying full health and is demonstrating great form. He may never be the unstoppable Rooney of Euro 2004 we remember, however, he is now a more mature and settled player, and whilst the spotlight is gradually shifting away from him to the next generation of exciting new players, Rooney is playing some of his best football yet, without having to deal with the pressure that comes from being the country's star player.
The next generation
A new generation of promising players are coming up the ranks to include Harry Kane, a prolific Spurs striker whose goals could drive England all the way to glory, and Raheem Sterling, arguably the best young player in the world right now and a feared opponent for France, providing he remains fit. With the likes of Theo Walcott, John Stones, Danny Welbeck, Andros Townsend, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge to call on, Hodgson has a crop of players who can fulfil their duties at both ends of the pitch.
Other nations not as strong
If the Euro 2016 qualifiers are anything to go by, then England are in a strong position to do well. Whilst they swept aside all of the teams they competed against, other teams failed to do so well with Germany only winning two out of their four qualifiers, while Spain were also beaten by Slovakia, the Netherlands lost twice and Portugal were also defeated.
The knock-out phase
England currently lack knock-out phase experience within a major tournament having failed to progress past the quarter-finals of either a World Cup or European Championship since 1996 whereas Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy have all been to finals in the past five years.
No winter break
While most European leagues enjoy a winter break, the Premier League continues to play through even the worst winters, meaning England could be the most fatigued team of the all the major nations going into Euro 2016. This could be made worse by the fact there will be 24 teams in France as opposed to 16 in past European Championships, which means the finalists will have to play seven games rather than six.
At present, England are sat in pot one meaning they will avoid playing against holders, Spain, France (the hosts), Belgium, Portugal and Germany. But depending on the draw this weekend, England could still face some tough competition from teams such as Italy who have tormented England in the last 2 major tournaments, beating them 2-1 in their opening game at the World Cup 2014. Furthermore, England have a chance of drawing against one of their close neighboring teams such as Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales who are all in Pot 4. Such a fixture could cause a heightening of tension and an additional strain on the players.
Pressure from the media has done nothing to help the England team in times gone by. Journalists have a knack of always building the England team up as if they’re the best in the world, when actually this is far from the truth. It's important that the media go into the tournament with realistic expectations and do not heap pressure on the team.
England have already lost to Spain and won to France, while the forthcoming friendly games against Germany and Holland will reveal even more about the current state of the England side. Do YOU think England can triumph at Euro 2016? We'd love to hear your thoughts below.